Book information

Life-Study of 1, 2, & 3 John, Judeby Witness Lee

ISBN: 0-7363-2786-X
Printed Copy: Available Online from Living Stream Ministry

Currently in: Chapter 40 of 49 Section 1 of 3

LIFE-STUDY OF FIRST JOHN

MESSAGE FORTY

THE VIRTUES OF THE DIVINE BIRTH
TO OVERCOME THE WORLD, DEATH, SIN, THE DEVIL,
AND THE IDOLS

(5)

Scripture Reading: 1 John 5:18-21

In 5:20 John says, “And we know that the Son of God has come, and has given us an understanding that we might know Him who is true; and we are in Him who is true, in His Son Jesus Christ. This is the true God and eternal life.” The Son of God, who has come to us in incarnation and through death and resurrection, has given us the understanding, the ability, to know the true God. This understanding, this knowing ability, includes our enlightened mind, our enlivened spirit, and the Spirit of reality. Now we have the ability to know God. As we have pointed out, to know God is to experience Him, enjoy Him, and possess Him.

THE TRUE ONE

In 5:20 John twice speaks of “Him who is true.” A better translation would be “the true One.” To speak of God simply as God may be to speak in a rather objective way. However, the term “the true One” is subjective; it refers to God becoming subjective to us. In this verse, the God who is objective becomes the true One in our life and experience.

What is the meaning of the expression “the true One”? In particular, what does the word “true” mean? Here the Greek word translated “true” is alethinos, genuine, real (an adjective akin to aletheia, truth, verity, reality—John 1:14; 14:6, 17), opposite of false and counterfeit. Actually, the true One is the reality. The Son of God has given us an understanding so that we may know—that is, experience, enjoy, and possess—this divine reality. Therefore, to know the true One means to know the reality by experiencing, enjoying, and possessing this reality.

First John 5:20 indicates that God has become our reality in our experience. The Son of God has come through incarnation and through death and resurrection and has given us an understanding so that we may experience, enjoy, and possess the reality, which is God Himself. Now the God who once was objective to us has become our subjective reality.

In 5:20 John says that we are in the true One. We not only know the true God; we are also in Him. We not only have the knowledge of Him; we are in an organic union with Him. We are one with Him organically.

When John says that we are in the true One, He is making a crucial point. Not only do we know the true One, and not only do we experience, enjoy, and possess Him as the reality, but we are in this reality. We are in the true One.

IN THE TRUE ONE, IN HIS SON JESUS CHRIST

In 5:20 John says, “We are in Him who is true, in His Son Jesus Christ.” To be in the true God is to be in His Son Jesus Christ. Since Jesus Christ as the Son of God is the very embodiment of God (Col. 2:9), to be in Him is to be in the true God. This indicates that Jesus Christ the Son of God is the true God.

Let us consider in more detail John’s word “we are in Him who is true, in His Son Jesus Christ.” Notice that there is a comma after the word “true.” In the original Greek text there is no punctuation at all. Hence, translators differ concerning whether or not a comma should be placed after “true.”

Moreover, there is a question whether the phrase “in His Son Jesus Christ” is in apposition to “in Him who is true,” or is an adverbial phrase. Some interpreters say that this phrase is in apposition; others say that it functions like an adverb. If this phrase is in apposition to “in Him who is true,” the meaning would be that to be in the true One is equal to being in His Son Jesus Christ. If “in His Son Jesus Christ” is an adverb, then this phrase indicates that we are in the true One by being in His Son Jesus Christ.

Grammatically speaking, it may be preferable to say that “in His Son Jesus Christ” is not in apposition to the foregoing phrase, but is a modifier describing how we are in the true One. In this case, the meaning is that we are in the true One because we are in His Son Jesus Christ. In other words, we are in the true One by being in Jesus Christ. The reason we need to consider this matter is that it is vital to our spiritual experience.

After much study, I have come to the conclusion that either way we understand the function of the phrase “in His Son Jesus Christ,” the outcome is the same. Whether this phrase is in apposition to the foregoing phrase or is a modifier, the result is the same. If the latter phrase is in apposition to the former, the meaning is that to be in the true One is equal to being in His Son Jesus Christ. This would also indicate that the true One and Jesus Christ are one in the way of coinherence. Therefore, to be in the Son is spontaneously to be in the true One. If “in His Son Jesus Christ” is a modifier, the meaning is that we are in the true One by being in His Son Jesus Christ. How are we in the true One? We are in Him by being in His Son Jesus Christ.

If we consider this matter carefully, we shall see that in both ways of understanding these phrases, the meaning is actually the same. Whether we say that to be in the true One is to be in His Son Jesus Christ, or we are in the true One by virtue of being in Jesus Christ, the outcome is the same.


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